Mobile Analytics from AdMob

The news is starting to make it out about the analytics product AdMob has in beta. Like mentioned before, analytics on mobile is one of those things it’s easy to do poorly and very difficult to do well. Even the folks who have been paying attention to the environment for a long time don’t have clear cut answers about how to deal with thorny issues like carrier identification and user counting. I was hoping that the MMA would get out in front of the crowd on this one and drive some consensus, but that wasn’t to be. So of course I’m happy to see AdMob attempting to bring some sanity to the field. They’re certainly some of the most well positioned to deal with the global issues off-deck publishers have in understanding their mobile audience.

I haven’t been using the service actively for my sites (the main one I would think about using it on would be Mowser, which is ummm.. headed in a different direction these days), but I have sat down with the system and poked through it using other folks data. In my opinion one of the most important set of stats is around number of users over time and how long they stay. How many users do I have in a day? How many of them are returning users vs. new users? What are the “front door” areas of my site that drive new users, and how often do those users visit other areas? Stuff that AdMob has thought through both from the publisher and advertiser perspective and is well represented.

The area I’m most curious about is the device capability breakdown. Custom iPhone sites are relatively common because of the marketing and discussion that goes around that particular device. But I’m not sure that anyone has ever really exposed the additional device segmentation for the off-deck folks. Of the folks that are looking at device breakdown many that I talk to see Nokia N-series devices as the extreme front runners in terms of their total number of pageviews. While the browsers in those devices don’t have the same emotional impact that using Safari on the iPhone does the first time, I do think the devices are successfully driving mobile web usage. Will exposing some of the additional info about devices drive additional middle web style site development? It’s a question not just of device penetration and capability, but of developer mind-share and impact of user interface. There’s a real ecosystem around the iPhone, go to developer events and people are “dabbling in iPhone development”. No one is “dabbling in N-series development.” This is why I’m still an engineer by trade, I just don’t understand how Apple manages to do these things. Much respect.

Stepping up a level however, I would have really liked there to be some public consensus around how to count users and identify uniques – with compliant products following on. But one of the principles I’ve come to understand recently is that it’s easier to build something that works and let standardization form around existing practice than it is to try to drive unity from diverse groups through committee discussion. I’m hoping that what happens is that the practices that AdMob has put into place will drive behavior like the content adaption manifesto Luca put together helped to identify destructive behavior across the environment and correct it. There’s certainly the mass there to make an impact.

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4 Responses to Mobile Analytics from AdMob

  1. Dean Collins says:

    Hi Mike,

    Totally agree about standardization on terms and definitions.

    Being first to market in October last year we are in a position that since having launched Amethon Mobile Analytics there have been 6 other vendors who have now launched mobile analytics applications in one form or another.

    (Ahhh it’s nice to be a market leader and have imitators try and keep up, imitation truly is the sincerest form of flattery :).

    One of the main discussion points on the panel I shared at this months New York Mobile Monday was the need for standardised api’s so you weren’t stuck with one dashboard over another.

    We counted about 8 mobile advertising dashboards between the panelist, how – who is going to bring this all together into one ‘performance view’ is the real question.

    This isn’t an analytics question, more of a ROI for your AdSpend question.

    Outside of adnetworks I keep coming back to using analytics for the very best user experience.

    It’s important to point out that Amethon are still the only vendor to use Wireline Capture – so we see 100% of the traffic from the cellular phone browsers to the mobile content webservers, importantly this also means that there is no additional ‘weight’ added to the content pages through the use of page tags or pixel beacons which whilst not an issue on desktop analytics is a heavy burden on limited mobile bandwidth.

    This also means we can track activity not possible using a pixel beacon.

    Knowing what, how and when your customers are experiencing your content, for me at least, is still the most important factor of choosing an analytics provider.

    Hopefully as the mobile content market matures MMA will take the lead to implement clean descriptive definitions in a similar way to the great work the IAB has done in the desktop internet space. (overlap?)

    Dean Collins
    Phone: +1 646-240-4043

  2. miker says:

    The wire level capture is interesting, but really a very deep integration for a lot of the folks I talk to. They have a server somewhere, rented or even shared (to say nothing about cloud systems like google apps or Amazon web services). It’s a great top end solution, but it does set the bar very high for the average site owner.

    What are you folks doing to drive standardization in the market? Tying up large distribution points with a paid service seems like it would be harder to leverage community effects than with a free service covering a large number of smaller publishers. Still, just two or three ESPN or CNN sized installations could give you some leverage.

  3. jpop says:
    Interesting, Two different takes on Admob Analytics

  4. Pingback: The Middle Web and Navigating Mobile Internet « The Mobile Geek

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